This article was previously published on March 17, 2020 and updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy. 

Everyone makes mistakes. But when it comes to your home security, even simple mistakes can put your home at unnecessary risk. An unsecured home significantly increases the chances of a burglary or break-in.

We sometimes forget some obvious home security practices. It’s important to be diligent and mindful of potential security mistakes in and around your home. To help avoid unnecessary safety risks, we have compiled a list of some of the most common home security mistakes that put you, your home, and your loved ones at risk.

1. Forgetting to Lock Doors or Windows

It may seem like an obvious statement, but you’d be surprised how many of us forget to secure entryways when leaving the house or turning in for the night. 81% of all home break-ins start on the first floor—meaning simple ground level due diligence is vital to preventing a burglary.

Always make sure you do a quick sweep of all ground level doors and windows before going to bed or leaving your home. It takes less than five minutes but can make all the difference. It doesn’t hurt to check second story or basement entrances too, if you have the time.

2. Leaving Valuables in Plain View

Burglars love expensive items that are clearly visible and easily accessible. It makes their job easier and can minimize the amount of time they have to spend inside during a break-in. Common items burglars target include:

  • Cars
  • Laptops, Tablets, Desktops, etc.
  • Gaming Systems
  • Jewelry
  • TVs
  • Stereo Equipment
  • Musical Instruments
  • Collector’s Items
  • Personal/Sensitive Documents

Leaving expensive items in plain view attracts burglars. Keep valuables out of sight and out of mind of potential onlookers. Close garage doors when not in use, fold boxes from expensive purchases inside out before throwing away, and close drapes to shield belongings from prying eyes. If you have a safe, we recommend putting your most valuable items in it and memorizing the code.

3. Advertising a Vacant Home

The lights are off, the cars are gone, and mail, newspapers and packages have accumulated. All these factors paint the perfect picture for an easy burglary target. When leaving for a vacation or business trip, consider what your vacant home will look like and seek ways to maintain the appearance of an active home.

  • Ask neighbors or relatives to pick up the mail in your absence.
  • Invest in an energy management solution that allows you to schedule and remotely control lights within your home.
  • Leave at least one car in a garage if you have multiple vehicles.

When traveling, it’s always important to be mindful of your home’s appearance and what you post on social media. Vacation pictures are a clear indicator your home is vacant, which makes it more susceptible to a burglary.

4. Forgetting to Arm Your Security System

It may seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised at how many of us forget to secure our security systems when we leave or go to bed at night. According to the FBI, 36.7% of burglaries were unlawful or unforced entry. Break-ins like these can be thwarted with a properly functioning security system—but only if it’s armed.

Make it a habit to turn on your system as soon as you enter your home and right before exiting. If you find yourself forgetting, create reminders such as a note on the door, a note on your smartphone, or special keychain to prompt you. A home security system that can be controlled using a mobile app can also help in case you forget to arm your alarm,

There are also solutions that will automatically arm or disarm your system when you’re in range. Known as geofencing, certain smart home rules and notifications—like the security systemlights and thermostat—can be enacted based on your proximity to your home.

5. Neglecting Home Security Maintenance

While self-testing is a good practice, security equipment should be checked annually by a professional. Security technicians can provide a more specific diagnosis of your system, and professional maintenance prevents homeowners from accidentally damaging their system.

Furthermore, you should inspect—and change the batteries of—smoke and carbon monoxide detectors annually. Ensuring proper functionality is easy: For most models, you simply have to press and hold the button labeled “test” until the alarm sounds.

If any issues arise with your security system or individual products, you should contact your security provider right away. The longer you wait, the more at risk you leave your home. It’s best to address the matter quickly and to get it resolved by a professional.

6. Letting Your Guard Down

Everyone believes their neighborhood is immune to crime until it strikes. Regardless of how often your area is patrolled or how well you think your neighbors keep an eye out for one another, never let your guard down. Intruders tend to capitalize on this complacent feeling.

One of the best ways to prevent a home break-in is a security system. Not only do they keep your home protected, but they make would-be burglars think twice about targeting your property. At Vector Security, we work with our customers to find the right home security solutions that fit their home and budget. For more information, contact us today.